February 28, 2018: Captain of the Indian hockey team Sardar Singh has expressed optimism about the team’s performance in the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018, that is to be held in March. In an interview to reporters before the team leaves for Malaysia, Singh said he is sure India can put up a good show in a tournament where the Indian team face world number two Argentina in their first match of the tournament and will be competing with the likes of Australia, England, Ireland and the hosts Malaysia ahead.

“It is extremely important to start the tournament well. A good match against Argentina will give the team the confidence for the rest of the matches to follow. Every match in the Pool Stage will be important to ensure a place in the final. We have beaten teams like Australia and England in the past and have done well against Argentina too. We just need to ensure we play in a structured manner and execute the team’s plans perfectly,”

Sardar said ahead of the team’s departure.

In last year’s edition of the tournament, India finished third behind Great Britain and Australia. Although India fared inconsistently during the pool stage— winning two, losing two and drawing one, the team beat New Zealand to complete a podium finish at the tournament.

Sardar Singh, having lead the team to a silver medal at the 2016 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2016, expressed satisfaction at the quality of players in the team. The experienced midfielder said,

“It will be a good competition and Sultan Azlan Shah Cup has for long been a tournament that sets the pace for the rest of the calendar year and doing well here will be important for us. We have had a grueling camp in SAI, Bengaluru where the focus was on taking our attack and defensive skills to the next level,”

“It is always a proud moment to lead the Indian team. But my role will be no different from what I have been doing in the camp where we seniors have taken the responsibility to guide the junior players in the squad. At tournament too, it will be important to help them shake off the initial nervousness and I am confident with senior players like Ramandeep Singh, SK Uthappa, Surender Kumar and Talwinder Singh and very talented junior players, we will come up with a good show,” the 31-year-old signed off.

The 18-member Indian Men’s Hockey Team led by the experienced midfielder Sardar Singh leaves for the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018 from the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru on Tuesday night.